Discipline and safety problems on school buses are receiving new attention from the Houston ISD school administration, thanks to an effort to publicize those problems today by members of the Houston Educational Support Personnel Union (one of two Texas AFT affiliates in Houston ISD).
On Tuesday, April 10, dozens of HESP members who drive HISD school buses gathered at district headquarters to demand action to correct dangerous conditions that jeopardize safety for students and drivers alike.
Said HESP President Wretha Thomas (as quoted in the Houston Chronicle): “We have kids jumping out of the back of the school bus while buses are moving.” She added: “We have kids every day that come on the bus smoking marijuana. We have kids on our buses every week fighting. We have bus drivers being disrespected every day.”
Several of the HESP bus drivers present spoke of physical assaults on drivers and shots fired at school buses. Ruby Carter told the Chronicle, “We’ve had drivers get completely knocked out. Some of the kids are way bigger than the drivers.”
Drivers at Tuesday’s demonstration said they want the district to enforce existing discipline policy. They also said they had never received discipline-management training that the district claims to have provided.
A spokesman for the school district acknowledged that the drivers had raised “legitimate concerns.” The district has asked for a list of specific incidents, which the union will provide. The district spokesman also indicated that the Houston ISD might respond by adding new language on school-bus discipline to local policy. HESP’s Wretha Thomas and her members will monitor the district’s response to make sure it moves from acknowledging their legitimate concerns to taking practical action to solve the problems.